University of Iowa

In Convincing Style: Prose Textures, Poetic Effects

Weeklong June 09 to June 14 2019

Between contemporary fiction and creative nonfiction, there is no hard border, and both forms teem with morally ambiguous situations, judgment-free (or unreliable, or multiple) narrators, and complex characters. In both, it is common to leave the reader to decide what the story means. Themes are suggested, not imposed; and moral emotions may be awoken, but not necessarily resolved. Surprisingly, an open-ended coherence seems to suit many modern readers just fine—they want to be moved without being preached at. This workshop will be exploring the stylistic and structural conventions that allow a piece of writing to be both open-ended and coherent. It may be useful for fiction writers who find themselves sliding towards memoir, for creative nonfiction writers testing the boundaries of invention, and for poets or writers already comfortable with the fundamentals (of character, plot, scene, setting, etc.) who are curious about the effects created by blending fact and fiction, or who are trying to marry multiple realities into one work. This is a highly generative workshop, with new prompts each day. Over the course of the week, we’ll progress through several different styles of narrative persuasion, drafting structured work that leaves interesting gaps for a reader to navigate. You’ll come away not only with the start of future projects, but also with a greater trust in your potential readers.


In this workshop we will generate new writing through guided exercises and prompts.

Hybrid Forms
Short Story